According to my calendar, Winter doesn’t start until December 21st. I call bullshit. It’s dark when I get up to go to work in the morning, it’s dark when I get home from work and it’s freezing out. It’s fucking Winter. When this time of year rolls around, all I want to do is eat, sleep and listen to depressing music. I’m not allowed to hibernate, so I cope with the darkness of the season by listening to music that’s equally dark. Not wanting to keep the displeasure all to myself, I’ve selected ten of the most depressing albums in my Winter rotation to harsh your mellow and keep you appropriately bummed out until Spring rolls around… if you make it that long.
Among the heavy metal subgenres most likely to turn the average underground ‘head into a piping hot cup of haterade, groove metal (sometimes referred to as post-thrash, closely related to alternative metal and industrial metal) surely sits at or near the top of the list. Blamed for contributing to the death of thrash, the spawning of nu metal and for bringing scores of jock-strap-polishing meatheads into the scene (among other things), groove metal is quite possibly the most battered and beaten of the genre’s red-headed stepchildren. However, its most heinous crime in the eyes of most NWN! message board-dweller types is that it is a product of the nineties, that decade where everything went to shit for a legion of ’80s-worshipping metal miscreants, many of whom continue to dab at bitter tears with the unwashed corners of their patch vests while clutching at their Nihilist demo cassettes to this very day.
Roughly 5 months ago, Brandon Duncan (whom you may know from The Sequence of Prime) contacted me with an idea; let’s start a new online metal zine. Typically I prefer to work alone, but Brandon’s enthusiasm is contagious and I’m proud to call him my friend, so there was absolutely no way I could refuse. Brandon gathered an ace design team while I hand-picked some of my favorite writers from internet metal land with the express purpose of creating something new and unique, to drag the old school metal zine into the future, come Hell or high water with an emphasis on good old-fashioned writing and design.
After 5 months of hard work, I’m proud to present to all of you the fruits of our labors in the form of Backlit #0; fifteen pages of mind-melting music, art and literature.
Backlit / 0
Now available at backlitzine.com
Cover Art by Dan Harding
Raping Angels in America #1 / Joshua Haun
Angry Old Men / Jordan Campbell
Helpless Child / Dan Obstkrieg
Fucking The Future / Joshua Haun
Libations in the Labyrinth Vol. 1 / Dan Obstkrieg
Words That Wound / Dan Obstkrieg
Doomsday Device / Joshua Haun
Interview With Jester King Brewery / The Dragon of M87
Interview With Ashencult / Jordan Campbell
Art & Fiction:
Succubus in the Attic / Nikki Guerlain
Dan Harding: The Fine Art of Horror / Brandon Duncan
The Dragon of M87
I hope that you will all enjoy reading the first issue of Backlit as much as we enjoyed crafting it. This is only the beginning!
In my review of Blut Der Nacht’s excellent Demo MMXI, I talked a little about the rise of cassette culture within the American black metal underground over the last few years. Some see it as nostalgia, others see it as pure gimmickry. I see it as a way to bring black metal back to its roots, a return to the DIY ethos, primitivism and shadowy mystique the genre was built upon.
The cassette is a cheap way of reproducing and distributing music. I haven’t gone to the trouble of actually pricing tape production and duplication (maybe some readers can shed light on that in the comments?), but I can guarantee that it is much more cost-effective than having CDs and especially vinyl pressed. In this respect, it is the perfect format for bands that have no interest in dealing with Heavy Metal Inc, and although black metal has long since been absorbed into the establishment, there’s no time like the present to take it back underground. With that said, it should be noted that some cassette-based labels, specifically Crepusulo Negro and Rhinocervs (probably the two most infamous), have begun working with larger, more established labels such as Profound Lore and The Ajna Offensive to get some of their releases (Dolorvotre, Tukaaria, Odz Manouk) on CD, but this is surely due more to outside interest and demand. These cassette releases are cheap to purchase (typically $5 – $8) and are often extremely limited, selling out in a matter of days or even hours, and therefore not always readily available. Also, no matter how much metal fans might want to hear this stuff, many are unwilling to embrace the cassette due to its supposed limitations. This need for wider distribution and other formats is a consequence of releasing great music that people want to hear, and it’s much better than forcing fans to go scouring the internet for often janky downloads of these sold out releases. Of course, the fact that the music is being released on a format which many find unacceptable only adds to the clandestine nature of these bands and the music they create, and in my mind a little of that mystique dies every time I hear about this stuff coming out on CD or even vinyl. Nonetheless, what these bands are creating is some of the most compelling modern black metal I’ve heard in years (much more on this later), and deserves to be heard and made widely available.